Osaka was the venue for the second half of New Japan’s New Beginning show, complete with some hotly-anticipated title matches.
Will Ospreay’s death wish with Katsuyori Shibata over the Rev Pro British Heavyweight title was one such match, as was the rematch between the former Kamaitachi – Hiromu Takahashi – and Dragon Lee, in a career-shortening outing.
Injuries and illness forced some changes to the card, as Hirai Kawato dropped off the show with a bout of the flu, whilst a more serious injury will pin Lance Archer to the sidelines. Archer underwent surgery today (February 11) on a herniated disc in his back, which will keep him out for several months. His replacement in the tag title match? Takashi Iizuka…
TAKA Michinoku vs. Henare
A lot of ground work in the early going here, as Henare looked to wear down TAKA with a waist lock before TAKA took over with a poke to the eye. TAKA gets a near-fall with a diving knee as he grabs a single-leg crab, but Henare managed to mount a comeback with his usual shoulder block, body slam and suplex for a near-fall. A reverse chinlock sees TAKA try and force another submission, but yet again Henare grabs the rope. Yet another comeback gets Henare a near-fall with a shoulder tackle off the middle rope, but TAKA snatches the win out of nowhere by tying him up and rolling into a body press for the win. Fun stuff, and matches against varied opponents like TAKA can only help Henare’s development. **¼
KUSHIDA & Yoshitatsu vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima
Yoshitatsu starts by going into TenKoji early on… which perhaps might have been his only chance. They work over Kojima early, with KUSHIDA landing a hiptoss then a cartwheel dropkick for a near-fall, as he tries to soften up Kojima for the Hoverboard lock.
Kojima countered a hammerlock with bodyscissors into a suplex, and it’s poor KUSHIDA who takes the receipts for Yoshitatsu’s early start, as he takes a bunch of Mongolian chops for a near-fall. A headbutt by Tenzan drops KUSHIDA in the corner, but he recovers to escape a suplex and dump Tenzan with a Pele kick before he brings Yoshitatsu in to kick away at Tenzan’s chest.
A spinning heel kick barely seems to graze Tenzan for a near-fall, who’s yelled at by Kojima to kick out after that, as a Mountain Bomb gives the former tag champions the advantage. KUSHIDA and Yoshitatsu take some rapid-fire chops in the corner, but KUSHIDA comes back with a handspring back elbow to take Tenzan out of the match. Yoshitatsu follows with a Blue Thunder Bomb on Kojima for a two-count, as Kojima countered a Pedigree with a Koji Cutter.
An axehandle chop sees Yoshitatsu avoid a TenKoji cutter, before he unwisely tries to clothesline Kojima. His lariats don’t work, but Kojima’s do, and that’s enough to get the win. Good basic match, and after Yoshitatsu got into it with Kojima after the match, I *think* that may be Yoshitatsu’s last match here for a while as his delayed trip to Mexico is back on. **
Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI, Gedo & Jado vs. Yuju Nagata, Juice Robinson, Jushin “Thunder” Liger & Tiger Mask
Decent stuff early on as Nagata and YOSHI-HASHI squared off with forearms, before Nagata replied to a shoulder tackle by trying for an early version of the Nagata Lock.
Nagata immediately follows up with an armbar after CHAOS broke that up, as Goto this time ran in to get Nagata off of YOSHI-HASHI. Tiger Mask and Gedo get into it, with armdrags and dropkicks taking Gedo to the outside before Jado comes in for some failed double-teaming.
Liger comes in with palm strikes for all, but he gets caught by YOSHI-HASHI, who propped him on the top rope for a dropkick for an eventual near-fall. There’s some more of the same as Goto lays into Liger, who replies with a palm strike to the NEVER champion, before bringing in Juice Robinson to clear the CHAOS apron. Robinson goes back after Goto, landing the Diamond Dust out of the corner, then a cannonball senton for a two-count.
Some of Juice’s elbow draw blood from Goto, who comes back with the ushigoroshi (or as Kevin Kelly flatly called it “neckbreaker”). Jado comes in and capitalises with a near-fall after YOSHI-HASHI’s flipping neckbreaker, before Robinson moves away from a PK and goes for the Pulp Friction. That’s blocked as he and Jado trade shots, ending with a left hand and a back senton for a near-fall as the ring fills up to break up the cover.
A trio of dives leaves just Robinson and Jado in the ring, and it’s just a matter of time before the Pulp Friction takes down Jado for the win. Another good undercard multi-man tag – nothing much to write home about, but a solid match that continues to keep Juice on top. ***¼
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Taichi) vs. Kazuchika Okada, Rocky Romero & Beretta
Okada was without Gedo for this match, since he was just wrestling, and he was jumped by Suzuki at the bell as he choked at Okada whilst Taichi and Kanemaru tried to go after Roppongi Vice.
Beretta and Romero got the early upper hand, as they pulled off a pair of topes as Suzuki just watched on from ringside. Suzuki caught Beretta in a rope-hung armbar as he swung for him on the apron, and of course, Suzuki goes straight back to Okada , pinning him between two crowd barriers before he wrenches back on Okada’s neck on the floor.
Back inside, Taichi’s using the ring bell hammer on Beretta again, and he does the quick-count gimmick with TAKA again, before a schoolboy gets Beretta a near-fall. Suzuki then goes nuts with heel hooks, giving Okada, Beretta and Romero the hold, before he laughs at Beretta’s chops. Yep, Minoru is nuts.
An enziguiri knocks Minoru to the mat, as Beretta tags in Okada, who takes down Suzuki with some back elbows, before a DDT and a kip up leave Okada feeling his knee again. Okada slams Suzuki, who then crawls over to capitalise on Okada’s slowness before drilling his knee with an elbow, as the Suzuki-gun leader goes back to work on the champion. A Rainmaker’s blocked, but Okada pulls back with a dropkick – only to be unable to captialise thanks to his knee. Both men tag out, which just leads to Romero battering Taichi and Kanemaru with Forever lariats and an Axe bomber, before a neckbreaker slam by Okada helps Romero get a near-fall on Kanemaru.
Taichi gets involved again as he kicks Romero blow whilst the referee was distracted, but Okada and Beretta break up the cover after a DDT almost gets the win. The finish comes moments later, when Okada’s caught in a sleeper in the corner by Suzuki, as Taichi’s powerbomb to Beretta is followed up by a flying top rope DDT from Kanemaru for the win. Decent stuff, with Suzuki-gun perhaps better suited to the midcard right now… at least if they’re not going back to having Suzuki/Okada again? ***
NEVER Six-Man Championships: EVIL, SANADA & BUSHI vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Ryusuke Tagichi & Manabu Nakanishi (c)
A rematch from New Year Dash, with the Ingobernables getting a chance to regain their titles here. You know what, Hiroshi Tanahashi’s music is still crap compared to his prior song, but it’s growing on me…
Apparently the champions are being called “Taguchi Japan”, and they’re attacked at the bell by their challengers. That doesn’t end well as Nakanishi reverses a double suplex from EVIL and SANADA, before press slamming BUSHI onto them. When everyone returned to thering, Taguchi was sent across the ropes like a matador by BUSHI, who eventually took a hip attack from Taguchi, then Nakanishi, then Tanahashi. Alrighty then! Another hip attack attempt follows as they tried to whip BUSHI into Taguchi’s arse on the middle ropes, but BUSHI lands a dropkick to send him down as the camera misses a bunch of attacks on the outside.
The Ingobernables trio take over as SANADA and EVIL work over Taguchi with an elbow and a back senton for a near-fall, before a hip attack from Taguchi ends when he takes some atomic drops from EVIL. Who then spanks his arse.
Tanahashi returns to take care of SANADA with a hiptoss, then EVIL with a forearm, before a Dragon screw takes care of BUSHI and EVIL separately. He and EVIL trade slaps as the King of Darkness falls to a swinging neckbreaker, before a lariat drops Tanahashi off the ropes. Nakanishi tags in to spear SANADA, who replies with a big boot in the corner before Taguchi Japan set up for a three-way Nakanishi lariat spot.
Nakanishi’s suplex gets turned into a Skull End, but he reverses that back into a Torture Rack as Taguchi and Tanahashi restrain EVIL and BUSHI. SANADA grabs the referee and shoves the referee down, which means that the Hercules Cutter is for nought as there’s nobody to count it.
SANADA flips out of a German suplex as Nakanishi takes some avalanches in the corner, before BUSHI’s Codebreaker and a Saito suplex from SANADA gets a near-fall as the rest of the champions break up the count. Nakanishi falls into a Skull End, but a Slingblade breaks that up, only for Tanahashi to take a fireman’s carry spinebuster as things break down… leading to Nakanishi going up top! His cross body gets a two-count on SANADA, before another Torture Rack is avoided… allowing SANADA to unsight the referee as BUSHI mists Nakanishi, as the Skull End eventually forces the submission. All while the referee stares at a misted Nakanishi without questioning it. Another fun Ingobernables tag, and although they’ve got the gold back, they really are little more than props. ***½
After the match, SANADA tied up Ryusuke Taguchi in a ball, like he was a baseball bat wielding Jack Gallagher or something, before daring Milano Collection AT to do something. It was left to Henare to free the Funky Weapon, but he didn’t kick him in the arse or anything like that…
Revolution Pro Wrestling British Heavyweight Championship: Will Ospreay vs. Katsuyori Shibata (c)
This is a little weird, isn’t it? Seeing the Rev Pro title defended on a New Japan show… Ospreay came with his Rev Pro British Cruiserweight title, and somewhere Andy Quildan is beaming a massive grin here.
Both men started with a three point stance, rather than the usual shotgun start, as both men grapple at the start, exchanging wristlocks and hammerlocks. Ospreay, who isn’t known for his technical stuff, was repeatedly surprised by Shibata’s escapes and reversals, before taking Shibata down with a toe-hold, aiming for the champion’s taped-up knee.
Shibata returns with a wristlock as he forced Ospreay’s hand to the mat, for a stomp on the elbow, as Ospreay’s arm was worked over for a spell. Will returns with a shotgun dropkick as Shibata came out of the corner, before missing a shooting star press off the apron and connecting with a big boot before a tope landed big time! As did a Space Flying Tiger Drop!
Shibata rolls back in from that, but only to walk back into a kneebreaker and a reverse figure four. There’s a rope break, but Ospreay keeps up with a diving dropkick into the corner, which doesn’t faze Shibata, who just stands up and invites some forearms from Ospreay. Who delivers, before a single shot knocks him loopy as Shibata follows up with his own diving dropkick.
Ospreay tries to resist an abdominal stretch, but Shibata wrenches away before there’s a rope break. Shibata pops up form a snap German suplex, as Ospreay blocks a couple before catching a handspring and dumping Will with a deadlift German suplex. More strikes and a PK knock Ospreay to the floor, but Shibata gets suckered out with him as Ospreay pulls him into the ring post before a kick to the side of the head lays Shibata out cold.
Ospreay goes after Shibata after he realises he’s out cold, eventually rolling him up a la Haskins as he powers himself and the champion back in to beat the count… but Shibata still manages to kick out at two. Will gets crotched big-time as Shibata powers back with forearms on the top rope, before grabbing a wristlock. Ospreay punches free and slips down into the Cheeky Nando’s kick for a near-fall.
From there, a springboard forearm sets up Ospreay for the Rainmaker pose – and he gets the zoom out too – before turning a blocked Rainmaker into a corkscrew kick. Ospreay goes up top with Shibata down, and despite landing an imploding 450 splash, he still can only get a near-fall. So he goes for the OsCutter, but Shibata catches him in a rear naked choke, then a sleeper suplex… and he holds on as Will tries to flip out of that.
Shibata keeps the rear naked choke held on, and once Will’s down to the mat, it’s a small matter of a PK and that’s the win. Perhaps not the heights some had expected from their earlier skirmishes, but this was a really good match – to the point where I wouldn’t mind seeing Ospreay vs. Shibata at York Hall down the line. Except without as much need for doctors to instantly check on him afterwards! ***¾
IWGP Tag Team Championship: Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Takashi Iizuka vs. Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma vs. Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii (c)
Honma and Makabe jump the champions in the aisle as this thing starts outside the ring. The Suzuki-gun tandem target Yano in the ring for a spell, before his attempt to tag out led to everyone else jumping off the apron to avoid going in there with Iizuka.
Yano does his “break” shtick, before shoving Iizuka into the corner as he forcibly tagged in Honma. Then had a lie down outside. Of course, Honma misses a Kokeshi, as Iizuka takes over, whilst Davey Boy Smith Jr does his best to break the English announce team’s monitors as Honma gets a chair smashed over his back.
Back inside, Iizuka tries to cover Honma as he had both feet under the ropes, so he brings in Davey Boy Smith Jr to work over Honma with a massive stretch muffler, lifting Honma off the mat with ease. Iizuka tags in and tries to choke Honma with a rope, so Yano comes in and grabs Iizuka by his own dog collar to take him out of the ring.
Honma again misses a Kokeshi, this time on Ishii, as Yano comes back in and tries for a brainbuster, before he ends up being the first victim of the move today. Makabe does his best to fend off the champions with corner clotheslines, before he dishes out some mounted punches to Yano. Of course, Yano tries to Yano and hit a low blow, but Honma stops him, before a leaping Kokeshi and a German suplex almost win the match for the former champs.
Repeated clotheslines to the front and back of Yano, then another Kokeshi sets up for Makabe’s King Kong knee drop, but Iizuka gets in to knock Makabe onto the turnbuckles. Ishii gets back up and hits a superplex… but Makabe pops back up! A headbutt takes him into the corner so Davey Boy Smith Jr can tag back in, as he quickly distracts the referee so Iizuka can choke Yano with a rope.
Clotheslines knock down Yano and Ishii, as Smith goes for the bridging butterfly suplex, but Yano kicks out at two, as he does from a sit-out powerbomb. Iizuka returns and pulls the referee in the way, as he grabs his Iron Glove and uses it to knock down Makabe. Tomohiro Ishii goes after Iizuka, but takes a shot, before Smith is accidentally punched with it. Low blow, schoolboy, and Yano steals the win! Eh, this picked up at the end, but this didn’t feel like anything close to what they did last weekend. **¾
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Dragon Lee vs. Hiromu Takahashi (c)
Both men laid into each other with slaps and avalanches in the corner, as Dragon Lee cartwheeled out of a rana… Takahashi couldn’t, as he was sent to the outside for a tope suicida – almost a tope headbutt from the challenger.
Back in the ring, Lee keeps up the pressure with a knee to the midsection and a leg lariat for the first near-fall of the match. A forearm from Dragon Lee prevents a dive, but seconds later he’s sent flying courtesy of a sunset bomb as Takahashi flew to the floor, taking Lee with him. Takahashi runs down the aisle with a big boot to keep Lee down, before throwing him back in to beat the 20 count, and instead has to make do with a near-fall.
Takahashi tries to rip off Dragon Lee’s mask, before he just kicks away at his opponent in the corner. Lee retaliates by launching Takahashi onto the apron, then following up with a ‘rana from inside the ring to the floor, sending Takahashi flying into the aisle. A tope con hilo followed, as did a series of rolling Northern Light suplexes and a vertical suplex as Dragon Lee saw himself pick up a two-count from that.
A simple chop knocks Takahashi down, before Takahashi countered a Del Rio-esque double stomp by grabbing the mask and knocking Lee to the floor. Dragon returns to try again, but this time Takahashi sits up and hits a spider overhead suplex as Lee crashed into the aisle again. Takahashi tries a running ‘rana off the apron, but it’s turned into a powerbomb as both men are intent on hacking years off their careers with this one.
Back inside, we get a parade of German suplexes from both men, then a wheelbarrow German from Takahashi, before a standing Spanish Fly gets Dragon Lee a near-fall. More chops echo around the Edion Arena, as Dragon Lee dumps Takahashi with a snap suplex into the turnbuckles… only to see a second inside-the-ring-to-the-floor rana countered with a harsh powerbomb onto the apron.
Takahashi goes up top for a diving senton that knocked Lee into the crowd barriers. They return to the ring where Dragon Lee ducks a slap and turns it into a crossface, rolling with Takahashi towards the ropes then back into the middle of the ring, then into a Rings of Saturn, as Takahashi is forced to use his feet to break the hold.
Takahashi pulls the referee into the path of a Dragon Lee dropkick, and that just sets up Takahashi for a waistlock ‘rana bomb off the top rope… after he’d yanked off the mask, of course. That only gets a two-count as Dragon Lee’s forced to crawl towards young boy Tomoyuki Oka for cover while he puts the mask back on, before he lands a Dragon Driver (suplex into a powerbomb) for a two-count of his own.
Dragon Lee looks to end things with a powerbomb, but Takahashi counters it into a Destroyer! From there, the pair go back to slaps, then kicks, as Takahashi then counters a pop-up into another Destroyer! That’s only good for another near-fall, so Takahashi runs with Dragon Lee into the corner with a death valley driver, before the Time Bomb (swinging Samoan Driver) gets the win. That. Was. Incredible. These two seem to be unable to have a bad match against each other, and this was another good one to add to the pile. ****½
After the match, Ryusuke Taguchi makes his way to the ring and cut a promo – the gist of which was: Taguchi wants a shot at the title. Takahashi tries to hit him from behind with the belt, but Taguchi ducks and grabs the ankle lock instead.
IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Michael Elgin vs. Tetsuya Naito (c)
Another long main event here – and it’s becomign a thing for New Japan. Thirty-five minutes, the run-time on this one!
After some cat and mouse, Elgin leaps into Naito with a slingshot shoulder tackle, before he slammed Naito for another slingshot – this time a cross body press – as Elgin took an early two-count. A press slam knocks Naito down with ease, as Elgin kept up the pressure with a backdrop that took Naito to the outside, where Elgin broke convention and followed up with a cannonball off the apron.
Naito returns to the ring, then teases a tope… but he’s caught as Elgin marches him up the aisle in a suplex, before dropping him on the entrance ramp. They return to the ring as Elgin looks to set up for a deadlift superplex, but Naito rakes the eyes and hooks his knee in the ropes as he looks to target the big man’s knee.
An elbow to the knee sets up for a grapevine, as Naito spitting turns the crowd on him. Elgin rocks the champion with a massive chop, but Naito comes back with a knee breaker, then a dropkick as he again targets Big Mike with an Indian Deathlock. Elgin hits an enziguiri to block a takedown, before an inverted Falcon Arrow leaves both men laying.
Elgin continues with a clothesline in the corner, but he’s struggling to stay upright as he clung onto the ropes, before Naito raked the eyes to prevent a superplex. That worked, but he ended up being caught as he leapt off the top, then sent back into the corner with a German suplex! From there, Naito ate a bunch of clotheslines that knocked him loopy, before he hits Elgin with an inverted atomic drop and a dropkick to the knee. The outside-in dropkick gets caught as Elgin brushes Naito away into a suplex, and eventually dumps him with a series of rolling Germans.
Naito thought his tornado DDT was blocked, but he countered a deadlift suplex into the DDT anyway for a near-fall. Another eye rake and a dropkick looked to weaken Elgin, but he hits back with a jumping front kick as both men again crashed to the mat, but it was Elgin who got up first as he looked for a superplex. Of course, Naito broke free by clubbing at the knee, then the eye, before landing a sunset flip powerbomb off the middle rope.
Elgin returns fire with a powerbomb of his own, after catching a missile dropkick from the champion, before planting Naito for a big splash off the top… which connects, jarring his knee further on impact. Naito fights out of a buckle bomb and again gets a low dropkick and a takedown, but Elgin returns that favour with a big lariat that flipped Naito inside-out. Another lariat gets him a near-fall, but the knee’s taken too much damage as Elgin struggles to even lift up Naito for the buckle bomb. So he waffles him with a forearm instead.
Elgin goes for a powerbomb out of the corner, but Naito works free… and turns around into a superkick. More eye raking follows, as Naito finally pulls off a top rope ‘rana… but Elgin gets straight back up and takes a reverse ‘rana for another near-fall. Another leap from Naito’s caught, but he wheelbarrows through into a kneebar that almost forces Elgin to tap… except he manages to crawl his way to the ropes for the break.
The pair end up on the apron, where Naito again spits at Elgin. So he’s met with a death valley driver onto the apron, just because!
Naito’s pretty much dead on the apron as Elgin returned to the ring, following up with a deadlift Falcon Arrow from the outside in… but somehow Naito kicked out! A rolling elbow to the back of Naito’s head keeps him down, as does one to his face. Elgin mocks the tranquilo pose en route to a backfist, as he drills Naito with a buckle bomb, before his spinning powerbomb is broken up by another eye rake.
A tornado DDT drops Elgin, before a Destino gets a near-fall! Another Destino’s caught as Elgin follows up with a Takahashi-esque death valley driver into the turnbuckles. He rolls to the outside for cover, but it’s just a ruse as he rakes Elgin in the eyes once more, before Big Mike dumped him onto the apron with a powerbomb. Another powerbomb into the guard rails just followed as Elgin tried to kill Naito, as he went back inside for a super spinning Zangief-esque powerbomb… but that’s only good for another near-fall.
Elgin looks to finish it off with a Burning Hammer?! Naito flips out into a Destino on impact, but Elgin tries again, turning a boot out of the corner into another Burning hammer set up… again Naito flips out and hits an enziguiri, before a spinning backfist knocks Naito down. Naito comes back with a Koppo kick as he ducked another backfist, before landing the Destino out of the corner for another two-count. One regular Destino later, and Naito retained! Well, that was a hell of a spectacular war – one of the best I’ve seen this year, and as good as their two matches last year, without a single doubt in my mind. ****¾
What Worked: All of those singles title matches… my GOD. You could make a case for Ospreay/Shibata under-delivering based on their earlier skirmishes, but they still put on a hell of a strong style x flippy style match. We don’t need to say any more about the junior heavyweight and Intercontinental matches…
What Didn’t: if Lance Archer’s back injury changed plans, perhaps Suzuki-gun could/should have won the NEVER six-man belts, rather than continue to flip them back and forth?
Thumbs: Up, maybe in the middle – unless you avoid the first half of the show!